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The Surprising Character That Physically Hurt Tom Hanks To Play

Often dubbed with the honorary title as "the nicest man in Hollywood," veteran actor Tom Hanks has a list of credits a mile long. He started out in comedic roles for TV, starring in the 1980s sitcom "Bosom Buddies," and also made appearances in shows like "Taxi," "Family Ties," and "Happy Days." His film career quickly picked up in the '80s, as he landed the starring role in the fantasy rom-com "Splash," and later reached movie star status with the 1987 hit movie "Big."

Though he continued the trend of acting in comedy films into the 1990s, Hanks eventually made the transition to serious drama, winning two consecutive Oscars for his performances in "Philadelphia" and "Forrest Gump." He's had his share of action roles, too, playing Captain Miller in the Steven Spielberg war drama "Saving Private Ryan," and codebreaker Robert Langdon in the 2006 adaptation of "The Da Vinci Code." Pushing 50 at that time, Hanks proved that he could hold his own when it came to the physical demands of starring in action-packed blockbusters.

Yet even with all the running, shooting, and crawling in the muck and grime that he had to do in films like "Saving Private Ryan," Hanks recently told BBC Radio 1 that it was another project that was the toughest to shoot, one that ended up with him in a lot of physical pain. Surprisingly, it was a project in which Hanks never even appeared on-screen.

Woody from Toy Story was Hanks' most physically demanding role

Back in 2019, Tom Hanks sat down with BBC Radio 1's Ali Plumb to talk about his iconic character, Woody, and the evolution of the "Toy Story" franchise, which spanned over 20 years. Although Hanks has a lot of love for the high-strung (no pun intended) cowboy, he confessed that returning to the recording booth did fill him with a sense of dread.

"Well, I have never gone into a recording studio for Woody without wishing it was already over," Hanks admitted. "Because he is clenched. He is a clenched person. Everything he's going through is the crisis of his moment." All that "clenching" apparently resulted in actual physical pain for the actor, who was also forced to work within a very confined space. "And to stand, and not being really able to move—because you can't go off microphone—and embody this—I mean I'm getting clenched just thinking about it now ... I have driven home after a four or five, sometimes six-hour recording session, and my diaphragm, it hurts. It aches," he added.

Not only that, but the first "Toy Story" movie had to be remade entirely, with Hanks re-recording everything again from a blank slate. "We recorded an entire version of 'Toy Story' that didn't quite work the way they wanted it to," hes said. "So we went back and recorded a brand new version of it." As to the reason why the original "Toy Story" movie had to be overhauled, the film's creators realized that the original script made Woody seem like a total jerk (via CBC Radio).

Hanks previously offered other reasons why Toy Story was so demanding

Hanks' BBC interview wasn't the first time he talked about how hard it was to do the "Toy Story" films. Back in 2020, he told TV journalist Graham Bensinger that the animated movies were the most physically demanding thing he'd ever done. "Because you cannot move," Hanks said. "You have no costume to hide in. You have no motion in order to animate the emotion, you don't get to do that. You have to stay locked in place, on microphone and only use your imagination and your voice in order to go there. And I think I've probably recorded half of all the 'Toy Story' movies with my eyes closed."

So, if you think that a voice actor's work is easier than an actor who performs on camera, you'd better think again. After playing Woody in four feature films over the last two decades, it's a good bet that Hanks will be eager for another World War II epic.